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No more campaigns

PRESIDENT Umaru Musa Yar’Adua last April told his party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and by extension his own aides, that it was time to work and not campaigns. Jobbers started campaigning for a second term for the President before he completed his one year in office.

Since the 2007 elections, the country has been one big campaign ground. Election results have been upturned in at least nine states, with re-runs ordered in six states. The number of other seats that has been re-contested was enough to keep the country in a full campaign swing.

Considering that some jobbers only survive on the outcome of the convoluted party policies and their own selfish intervention, the campaigns are unstoppable. The President, however, was not referring to canvassing for votes in situations where vacancies exist. Muted campaigns for the President’s second term have continued with some groups coming out boldly to announce the absence of a vacancy in the presidential villa. Their candidate for the 2011 election, they said, was Yar’Adua. They have their right to such aspirations.

What is wrong is that in a democracy, such utterances minimise the political space and each time they have been made, the incumbent got the ticket without others getting a chance to contest against him.

It is embarrassing at the moment for these campaigns to continue. New groups are sprouting by the day and they appear to be a part of the response to the President’s health challenge. Real governance has been missing as the nation battles with containing the implications of running the presidency by proxy.

The President was right in stopping a charade. In his absence, it has remerged with a blackmailing content. Anyone now opposed to a second term for the President would be seen as not wishing him well.

Second term scheming has fueled divisions in the party as well as throwing up candidates whose loyalty lie elsewhere. Beyond these, the campaigns for 2011 elections have brought governance to a halt.

Compliance with this presidential directive is now impossible, as it has become a mark of loyalty to an ailing President. Ordinarily, the order should have been from the party, which is in a position to use its internal regulations to discipline erring members.

For governors, and the like, whose main claims to governance are windy speeches that are repetitions of previous boring attempts that have added nothing to provision of services to the people, the 2011 ticket is their idea of looking at the future.

The campaigns everywhere governors appear. Every minister ties his activities to the President’s seven-point agenda. Does it matter that many of them do not know details of the agenda?

With elections 16 months away, those in government should start accounting for their tenure. The recourse to seeking a new tenure to complete imaginary projects insults the electorate.

For now, Nigeria’s one-point agendum should be the health of the President. Any other campaign is mischievous and insensitive to the times.


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